I think that when we are part of a “couple” for a long time, we get so used to sharing experiences that everything from the coffee spilled in our lap during a meeting to ordering in Chinese is a moment that belongs to both of you. One of the hardest things of finding yourself newly single (other than the infrequent sex and the frequent bar hopping) is that you have to relearn how to experience things without sharing them with someone. Sure, it sounds easy. But if no one is around to watch you get sick from the seafood lo mien, did you even spend those hours vomiting? OK, maybe that’s not the best example. But you get my point, right? So yesterday, in an effort to take control of my life and relearn how to experience things by myself, I went to a movie by my lonesome. Now I actually haven’t been to a movie alone since the summer after my senior year, when Chicago experienced an extreme heat wave and my house was without air-conditioning. While I wasn’t exactly nervous, it seemed more like a chore than an outing. Like if I’m going to be watching this movie alone, why wouldn’t I do it in an over-sized T-shirt in my comfy bed while I scan Facebook for photos of interest?
After a long day at work, I somewhat reluctantly bought a ticket to go see “Cyrus.” The first thing I noticed was the familiar stickiness of the linoleum floors. I deeply inhaled the thick smell of popcorn and summertime BO being cooled off by over-enthusiastic air conditioning. I was a little early so I settled into a seat before even the trailers went on. The theater started to fill up, but mysteriously the seats surrounding me stayed empty. It was like I had one of those force fields that Sonic the Hedgehog used to sometimes roll around in, blocking anyone who might think of getting too close. Or maybe people could just sniff out the “recently dumped” scent on me and feared that it might be contagious?
Whatever the reason, I happily sat alone, all stretched out, a little cold. I didn’t share popcorn. I ate a whole fricking tub. I didn’t share my arm rest. I put my weary elbow right down the middle of the plastic divider. I didn’t share my laughter at “Cyrus”’ insanity (unless you count that guy with the super high-pitched laugh and tendency to knee my seat behind me). I didn’t share the experience at all. I did it just for me, not worrying about who may have witnessed it.
While relearning how to live my life without my ex is going to take some time, a lot of take-out and more than one movie stub, I do think this was a step in the right direction. Though, honestly, I still think I like going to movies with people, but hey, that’s what friends are for.